We are getting closer… Suddenly, the polity came alive during the week with Bola Tinubu throwing his hat into the ring of presidential contestation. He dared to bell the cat. In less than 24 hours, two more would-be gladiators stepped forward. It is the march to the magic year 2023 and the race to climb the mountain of Aso Rock. Those who have indicated interest in the presidential race are Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and Senate Chief Whip Kalu Orji Kalu who himself, like Bola Tinubu, had been a governor in Abia State. They will need the nod of their party congress whenever it chooses to hold its Convention laden with volatility and concomitant anxieties. I am referring to APC. The gentlemen have been warming up; they have been rehearsing; they have been looking at themselves in the mirror. A few more in their party ranks are likely to join the fray, aside from the team from the Peoples Democratic Party. The Northern star and committed long runner, Atiku Abubakar, is on the cards to be our own Joe Bidden, and so is Bukola Saraki, erstwhile Senate President, then the thorn in Buhari’s flesh while his tenure in the Green Chamber lasted.
Before the development in the political arena, acceleration and intensification of events in the land continued if we were to close our eyes to earthquakes, landslides or flooding in South Africa; the world has entered a new phase in its cycle. The events are still our experience whether we pay attention to them or not, whether we note them or not; whether it is an altercation between Chief Edwin Clark, an effective Education Commissioner in Sam Ogbemudia’s Bendel State, Gowon’s Information Minister and today, the notable leader and credible spokesman of Niger Delta, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Then the famous Muhammadu Buhari interview, during which he said establishment of state police to tackle our intractable insecurity problem is not an option. We hold our breath as the frightening harvest of death continues unabated—in the hands of bandits and kidnappers as well as from natural causes—deaths of the high and the lowly; celebrities are not spared. The former Head of Interim Government, Ernest Shonekan, who before then was for years chairman of UAC, has passed away. As I was drafting this piece yesterday came the “Breaking News” that former Oyo State Governor, Bayo Alao-Akala has passed on. He was found dead in his room yesterday morning. We have lost the Olubadan. About the same time Bashir Tofa, who contested the presidency with Moshood Kasimawo Abiola departed and so did Dr. Datti Ahmed, president of the National Council of Sharia.
When President Buhari said state police is not an option, he did not remember his campaign promise in which he said “If you nominate me in December, 2014 and elect me in February , 2015, my Administration — under what was titled ‘Security and Conflict Resolution; On National Security and Defence’ would “Consult and amend the Constitution to enable States and Local Governments to create City, Local Government and State Policing Systems, based on the resources available at each level to address the peculiar needs of each community. I will therefore work with the National Assembly to set and revise, when needed, boundaries of operations for Federal, State and Local Government Policing Units, through new Criminal legislation to replace the Criminal Code and the Police Act.”
The Governors Forum whether under Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State or under Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, the Southern Governors Forum under the leadership of Rotimi Akeredolu, as well as the APC Committee on Restructuring, led by Nasir el-Rufai, have all called for the establishment of state police. These are different from calls by prominent leaders such as former President Ibrahim Babangida, former Governor Jonah Jang and Joseph Dawodu, one-time president of the Nigerian Bar Association.
Who owns the oil in the Niger Delta? Activist Ankio Briggs, referring the other day to how the other parts of the country distance themselves from the plight of Niger Delta people, and the environmental despoliation which assails them unrelentingly, gas flaring and so on, said: “They keep saying ‘our oil’, they do not ever say our devastation, they don’t say our pollution; they don’t ever say our despoliation or our degradation.” A pronouncement deserving a standing ovation! The National Publicity Secretary of Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed did not shrink from saying that the oil in Niger Delta belongs to the North, a sentiment echoed by a Northern youth leader. The latter went on to state that it was money from the North that was used to develop the oil! It is so widely known that oil exploration and oil exploitation was by Royal Dutch Shell company which found oil in Oloibiri in 1956 and it was jointly financed by Shell and British Petroleum, both becoming known in the venture as Shell-BP.
Scientists are quick to point out that oil formed from deposit of sediments in riverine areas. In sediments, they say, are organic deposits which under high temperature and pressure at the deeper depths of the earth transform into petroleum. It is as if the deposits are pressure cooked at the depths and stored in reservoirs, a petroleum scientist said to me. He went on: “When oil is produced and run through the refinery under high temperature and pressure it fractionates into components at different cooling off temperature.”
As the political space opens and gets heated up, we can begin to see that the issues for campaign from which manifestoes will be drawn up are clear. There will be renewed and vigorous pressure for restructuring of the country into what has become known as true federalism. It is behind the manifestoes Nigerians will hopefully file. If proponents of true federalism win, it is then we will begin to hope for light in the long dark tunnel into which Nigeria has been sucked, light in the distant horizon, for it would signal reconciliation with the immutable principle that a union can endure only if it gives joy and fulfillment to the parties in it. It is a principle that holds for clubs, for friendship, associations, companies, marriages and nations. A man can only live and find harmony and joy among his own kind, that is, people of his own nature. And so the saying goes: “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” In other words, a man is known by the company he keeps.
By ‘among one’s own kind’ is not to be interpreted narrowly to mean strict ethnic frontiers are to be drawn and applications by other people shut out. What it means is spirit-to-spirit accord. The accord can be struck if the parties share comparable inner development and worth. If it were not so there would not have been inter-ethnic friendships, associations or marriages. And it is saying the obvious to state that quite a great many such relationships, marriages and unions are successful. Groupings according to shared inner radiance and values take place automatically and manifest more in ethnic distributions. The nationality groupings are further divided into sub-nationalities. Towns emerge. And so do villages. Then families—all with varied values and outlook, in accordance with the limitation of their inner development and clarity. As there is no standstill, there is either progress or retrogression. As individuals make progress or retrogress, there is reshufflement. They change abode and locality. The man in Mushin moves to Okooba, from there to Mokwa, from Mokwa to Ottawa in Canada. He does not know what is driving him. Many leave their country altogether for good. Conditions would be created by the immutable and self-enforcing Law of Nature to place a man where he belongs and deserves—for progress or misfortune that could sometimes be defined by death. The goal should be in everyone becoming a citizen of the universe. As uniformity in inward development is impossible because of the unhindered exercise of free will, with considerable and widespread inner development, although there will be variegated communities, greater understanding will ensue.
It is these principles of life which various peoples ensnared by commercial and material considerations have ignored in the formation of nation-states. It is disrespect for this principle that governs all life that has led to needless bloodshed, political instability as well as economic collapse in many countries, among them our country, Nigeria. In practically everywhere in the world it is discovered too late that blood is thicker than water. So all manner of people are forced into a union. All the blunders and the resultant atrocities have arisen because a majority of human beings see themselves as being in the centre of life, all-knowing and subject only to their own will. There is hardly any private questioning except in the hour of crushing travail, on what this life is about. Who am I? Why am I here on earth? Yet, until we begin to have reservations about our state in life there can be no progress. It is such questioning that leads to introspection and knowledge borne out of experiences.